What is (and isn’t) social selling?

Social selling What is (and isn’t) social selling?

Published on 23.08.2021 by Thomas Hutter, CEO of Hutter Consult AG

Social selling is currently one of the big buzz words in sales and an emotive term for many people on social networks. Not least because it is often confused with cold calling.

No doubt you’ll recognize this situation from LinkedIn: someone sends you a contact request on LinkedIn, you take a look at their profile, think it may be interesting and accept the request. Less than 24 hours later, you see the first sales pitch in your messages. And it’s a hard sell – the way wine and insurance salespeople used to pitch over the phone.

Social selling is not cold calling

Social selling describes the development of relationships as part of the sales process. There’s no hard or cold selling and no harassment through direct messages. Instead, it’s a case of developing relationships on social networks through personal branding, social prospecting and employee advocacy, and strategically implementing social listening to start a conversation where you can present the solutions to a current question or problem at exactly the right moment.

It’s important to understand what social selling is not. We’re not talking about gaining access to potentially interested parties and harassing strangers with unsolicited private messages or public communications such as Tweets. Whether or not you give it the fashionable new name “social selling”, this approach is nothing more than unwanted advertising – or in other words, spam.

The most important components of social selling

Social selling has four main thematic components: personal branding, social prospecting, employee advocacy and social relationship building.

Personal branding is the use of social networks to establish an individual’s reputation and credibility. This is developed through compelling personal profiles that convey the person’s competency, integrity and credibility.

Social prospecting involves searching or monitoring social networks for signs of customer interest or qualified prospect status based on industry, role and geography.

Employee advocacy is when sales professionals or other staff use their own social media presence to share positive news, stories and insights about their company within their networks.

Social relationship management refers to the use of digital networks to cultivate ongoing customer relationships. This is an extension of traditional relationship management that focuses on communication and feedback with customers via social media.

Best practice for social selling

The recommended approach to social selling is relatively straightforward:

  1. Be active – only active people are noticed on social networks.
  2. Offer added value – potential customers need valuable and meaningful content that conveys information and which in turn adds value.
  3. Listen – relevant information and signals can be found on platforms using social listening tools.
  4. Build and nurture relationships – just like in real life, relationships on social networks also need to be built and maintained. Less is more when it comes to contacts – prioritize quality over quantity.

Social selling is efficient

The development of social selling, personal branding, social prospecting and relationship management are all labour-intensive. Strategic social selling can however provide efficient support for sales processes.


Due to the current situation, Connecta Bern will again be held as a digital event in 2021. Connecta is renowned for shining a light on the diverse nature of digitization and this year will be no different with content presented across the three formats of Connecta Blog, Connecta TV and Connecta Talk. Find out more here: www.swisspost.ch/connecta.


Thomas Hutter, CEO at Hutter Consult AG

Thomas Hutter specialized in social media as early as 2009 and regularly writes about social media on his blog thomashutter.com.

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